Saturday, December 5, 2009

What really is denoted by ‘SF’? >>>>>>‘SF’. is ‘Spent Force’.

Election campaigns are moments for clever word-play. It is a fun time certainly. People come up with nice lines, silly ones, words that are made for parodying and statements that sometimes wreck campaigns. It is usually a case of people over-reaching. Too many people over-reaching, I should say. Spoils the soup.

This was clearly evident in 2004 and 2005 when the campaigns of the UNP and Ranil Wickremesinghe respectively essentially self-destructed thanks to overkill. It happens when there is too much money and too many loyalists wanting to do the extra bit for the party and leader. When this happens, coherence is severely compromised and the electorate, bombarded with so many messages, some of which contradict others, decides to say ‘no’.

These are early days and the frontrunners are still in the parry and thrust mode. As the weeks pass we will no doubt see more intense exchanges of fire, slips of the tongue, moronic statements, lampooning and what not. Still, a poster did catch my eyes. It was clearly a teaser about Sarath Fonseka: SF meheyuma sudanam (translatable as ‘the SF operation is ready to go’).

‘SF’ of course stands for Sarath Fonseka as well as the Special Forces. It looks like the campaign managers believe that the military metaphor is best retained, perhaps to play off the former Army Commander’s medals. It doesn’t sit very well with the man’s restoring-democracy promise though, but then again who am I to question the wisdom of people like Mangala Samaraweera and Mano Ganeshan?

Nice poster. Caught my eye. I remembered it. I made the connection. Successful communication? Not necessarily. I don’t like military metaphors and undertones outlining the engagement in a democratic process. Still, as I said, these are early days and candidates and supporters have ample time to shoot themselves in the foot or mouth or whatever. Violent, these war-like words, don’t you agree?

Regardless of all these things, the ‘SF’ part got me thinking. The Special Forces, everyone knows, refers to an elite band of soldiers, highly trained and deployed in the most dangerous battlefield missions. Fonseka, at one time the chief of the Army, must be a highly trained soldier, I have no doubt whatsoever. That training was good for that task not for others. A highly trained pilot who excels at precision air-strikes is quite likely to be out of his depth if deployed in a Naval vessel, right?

But Fonseka has men and women of ‘experience’ to do his political work. He has resources. Money. Media. Poster-boys or rather, poster-pasting boys. Things like that. All ‘special’ and all amenable to description by the word ‘force’. So me may say ‘spent force’, just by looking at the JVP and the UNP. ‘SF’ = ‘Spent Force’ that’s something that someone could play with.

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